There are a few ways to shield yourself from a weapon detonation. Each anti-noise system has its own set of features. and it is not always easy to measure its usefulness or to know which model to choose.
Types of noise protection
There are two types of hearing protection:
- Passive protection
- Active protection
Passive protection is a device making it possible to permanently attenuate all exterior sound to a greater or lesser extent.
If the protection against dangerous noise is correctly carried out, it has the big disadvantage of reducing the sounds, which are not risky (we say that the protection is linear). For the practice of hunting, only the detonation of a weapon is a harmful sound. With this type of protection, all other sounds, before and after the shot, will be blocked or greatly diminished, creating the impression of being cut off from the world.
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The solution is then only to wear it for shooting. If this is easily achievable for sport shooting or Ball traps because we know precisely when the shot is made, it is much more complicated for hunting because it is difficult to predict in advance when the game will appear.
Additionally, when hunting, it can be dangerous to be cut off from outside sounds, such as a person approaching out of sight. It can be dangerous not to hear these kinds of sounds correctly.
The main advantage of this type of protection is that it is the most economical and does not require energy to operate (battery or batteries). This type of noise reduction device will be recommended for occasional hunting or sport shooting, the Ball Trap.
Active protection, on the other hand, offers the same quality of noise reduction, but, unlike passive protection, it can filter sounds according to their intensity. Thus it only reduces harmful sounds, i.e., all sounds above 85-87 decibels. All other noises are broadcast using a microphone and a speaker. Active protection can even, depending on the device, amplify the quietest sounds to improve hearing.
This type of protection then allows you to wear your noise reduction device throughout the activity, without worrying about anticipating or not a firing start, while communicating with other people around you and hearing everyone surrounding sounds.
In addition, as technology advances, integrated circuits are becoming increasingly miniaturized, many features are emerging, such as the walkie-talkie function or even the reception of telephone calls via Bluetooth, etc. The anti-noise devices offering active protection are thus perfectly suited to all types of activities, whether hunting, sport shooting, or ball trap.
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Active protection is kind of the best of both worlds. Powerful protection against dangerous noise while having a normal hearing capacity for other sounds. This allows you to wear your protection throughout the day without worrying about the protection of your hearing capital.
However, this type of protection has a few small drawbacks. Indeed, noise-canceling devices with active protection embed high-performance electronics and technology, with the primary consequence of a more expensive purchase price than passive protection devices.
The second drawback is that these devices use up energy and therefore have a more or less limited autonomy before having to recharge them. Some devices operate on battery power, others on batteries.
Finally, these devices are often heavier, which may change the comfort, especially for long sessions, such as during hunting. The comfort aspect will also depend on the type of device chosen.
Types of noise reduction devices
There are different types of noise protection devices:
- Protective helmets
Protective helmets generally offer the best possible noise reduction and optimum protection for the hearing system. These helmets have better protection because they encompass all around the ears, including part of the temporal bone, the mastoid, which is located behind the ear and acts as a sounding board.
Helmets with passive protection are the cheapest, the lightest, and those that reduce noise the most, quite simply because they do not embed electronics.
However, quality active protection helmets will offer excellent protection and allow you to wear the helmet throughout the shooting session without having to remove your helmet to hear outside sounds, talk to other people, listen to instructions. Receive calls, etc.
However, compared to earplugs, helmets have the drawbacks of being bulky, heavier, less comfortable to wear, and less pleasant if you wear a hat or headgear, for example. In addition, the helmet can hit the butt of the rifle during the shoulder.
Finally, we must pay attention to a detail that may reduce the effectiveness of the protection of the helmet. Indeed if the helmet is not completely pressed against the head, this is the case, for example, with a helmet that has aged having a less firm and less flexible foam. But especially for hunters and shooters wearing glasses, the latter’s branches raise the helmet a little bit, causing air to leak, and therefore sound.
Earplugs offer incomparable comfort and discretion. The anti-noise plugs, whether they are active or passive protection, have good protection and are very small when the weapon is on the shoulder. The caps can thus be completely forgotten even if you are wearing a beanie, hat, or cap.
With earplugs, the perception of sounds at 360 degrees is better because the ear is free. It is thus possible to better discern where the sounds come from, compared to the headphones which cover the ear entirely.
With earplugs, the seal is perfect at the level of the ear canal. The main downside is the price, quality earplugs with active protection are much more expensive than headphones.
How many decibels does it reduce?
Different headphones and earplugs do not offer the same protection in terms of decibel reduction. Indeed, the reduction will be around 20 to 35 decibels, depending on the models. This characteristic will have to be taken into account depending on your activity, and the weapon used.
While any protection will be sufficient for a handgun, it is not the same for shooting with a large caliber long gun, which will require high protection.
To optimize protection and possible, there is a solution; you just need to combine the wearing of earplugs and noise-canceling headphones. This will give you the best possible reduction.
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Battery life is only taken into account for noise-canceling devices with active protection, and therefore electronic. Most active noise canceling devices have a battery life of 10 hours, up to more than 50 hours.
Depending on your activity and its duration (shooting sessions, hunting trips, hunting weekends, etc.), it will be necessary to check the satisfactory autonomy to benefit from active protection at all times.
Automatic switch-off of the device
Devices with automatic battery shutdown are generally more expensive but will avoid running out of battery when you forget to turn off your headphones or earplugs.
Sound amplification enables noise-canceling devices with active protection to be able to hear non-harmful sounds. However, this amplification is carried out using one or more microphones and speakers and will not be of the same quality depending on the models.
Noise-canceling headphones equipped with 4 microphones, particularly greatly improve the perception of sound, which will be 360 degrees, thus delivering optimal results.
The amplification of the finest noises can be adjusted more or less finely using the amplification level. This adjustment is therefore very useful for adjusting your helmet according to all situations. Too sensitive and amplification could be counterproductive in an area with many leaves and dead branches, for example.
A wind filter system will also be useful so that the wind does not interfere with the perception of sounds.
Communicating headsets make it possible to communicate via walkie-talkie with other communicating headset wearers.
This type of communication, therefore, makes it possible to chat for free at more or less long-distance (a few hundred meters or even kilometers). Some microphones are triggered by voice, which eliminates the need to press a button to speak.
Headsets with a Bluetooth connection allow a wireless connection to, for example, a telephone or other communication devices, making it possible to receive calls or notifications.